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Chin Med. 2018 Dec 18;13:63. doi: 10.1186/s13020-018-0220-y. eCollection 2018.

Gut microbiota was modulated by moxibustion stimulation in rats with irritable bowel syndrome.

Wang X#1,2, Qi Q#3, Wang Y#3, Wu H1,2, Jin X4, Yao H5, Jin D3, Liu Y3, Wang C3.

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1Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 650 South Wanping Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, 200030 China.
2Key Laboratory of Acupuncture and Immunological Effects, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, 200030 China.
3Yueyang Clinical Medical College, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, 200437 China.
4Stark Neurosciences Research Institute & Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202 USA.
5Department of Radiation Oncology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202 USA.
Contributed equally



The pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is closely related to intestinal dysbacteriosis and can be controlled by moxibustion treatment. However, the mechanism underlying the therapeutic value of moxibustion in IBS treatment remains unknown.


An IBS rat model was established by colorectal distention (CRD) stimulus and mustard oil clyster. Sixty-five male rats were randomly divided into six groups: normal, IBS model, moxibustion, electroacupuncture (EA), Bifid-triple Viable Capsule (BTVC) and Pinaverium Bromide (PB) groups. The moxibustion group was treated with mild moxibustion at the bilateral Tianshu (ST25) and Shangjuxu (ST37) for 10 min/day for 7 days, the EA group was given EA at ST25 and ST37 once daily for 7 days, while the BTVC group and PB groups received Bifid-triple Viable Capsule and Pinaverium Bromide solution (at the proportion of 1:0.018) respectively by gavage once daily for 7 days. After the treatment, abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores were determined based on CRD stimulus, gut microbiota profiling was conducted by 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing.


Irritable bowel syndrome model rats had significantly increased AWR scores at all intensities (20, 40, 60 and 80 mmHg) compared with the normal group. Moxibustion treatment significantly reduced AWR scores compared with the IBS model group at all intensities. Across all groups the most abundant phyla were Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes followed by Proteobacteria and Candidatus Saccharibacteria. At genus level IBS model rats had a higher abundance of Prevotella, Bacteroides and Clostridium XI and a lower abundance of Lactobacillus and Clostridium XIVa compared with normal rats. These changes in microbiota profiles could however be reversed by moxibustion treatment. Alpha diversity was decreased in IBS model rats compared with normal rats, yet significantly increased in moxibustion- and PB-treated rats compared with IBS rats.


Our findings suggest that moxibustion treats IBS by modulating the gut microbiota.


16S rRNA; Gut microbiota; Irritable bowel syndrome; Moxibustion

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